Summary: It is no strange thing when the godly encounter persecution by those who refuse to yield to God & His Word. May the understanding that God has brought His servants before us through persecutions minister comfort & encouragement to us in our own tribulatio

PSALM 119: 81-88 [The Ministry of The Word Series]


[John 16:33]

We have arrived at the eleventh section of the 22 letter alphabetic Psalm. Here the psalm reveals the dark and dreary midnight of a distraught soul. The psalmist is in anguish. His soul faints (v. 81), his eyes fail as he looks for comfort (v. 82), he is persecuted (v. 84), the proud have set their traps for him (v. 85), he is attacked abusively (v. 86), and he almost dies (v. 87). Stars though shine out in the night and the last verse gives promise of the dawn. Even in the midst of darkness and despair, he continues to seek God's Word and prays for revival, "so that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth" (v. 88). [Williams, Donald. The Preacher's Commentary Series, Vol. 14: Psalms 73-150. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1989, S. 362.]

The thrust of the Psalm will become more cheerful after this stanza; but let these verses make us aware that even the most eminent servants of God are persecuted by the ungodly. It is no strange thing when the godly encounter persecution by those who refuse to yield to God and His Word. May the understanding that God has brought His godly servants before us through dreaded persecutions minister comfort and encouragement to us in our own tribulations (CIM) (John 16:33).





Verse 81 opens with the theme of suffering and the longing for divine intervention. "My soul languishes for Your salvation; I wait [hope] for Your word."

The hour is urgent. The crisis is clear. The need is great. The psalmist cries out that his soul is ready to fail while waiting for God's Word to be fulfilled.

The thing that causes him not to give up is his hope in God's Word. When God seems absent and the darkness stalks us, we still have the light of His promises to us. The salvation and comfort of God's people are secured to us by the word or promise which will certainly be fulfilled in its season.

The psalmist's anguish is well represented in verse 82. "My eyes fail with longing for Your word, While I say, "When will You comfort me?"

He longs for help from heaven. In his pain, he continually searches the Word of God. His eyes even now fail or grow dim from his study or his weeping. This is no academic exercise.

David knew where he anchored his life-ship. Hope without a promise is like an anchor without a secure hold. David's hope is fixed upon the divine Word. Where is your hope placed?

Blessed are the eyes that are strained in searching after God. The eyes of the Lord will see to it that such eyes do not actually fail.

David begs God in verse 83 to make haste to come to him because of his life-sapping affliction. "Though I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget Your statutes."

The psalmist using a simile describes him self as a "wineskin in smoke." This means that he was being weakened or shriveled up like a wineskin becomes in a smoky room or in the fire. He is cracked and dry. Even good men, when they are down and discouraged, sometimes think themselves more slighted than they really are.

Nevertheless, he stands upon God's Word in his distress. "Yet I do not forget Your statutes." His great affliction had not driven him from the Word but thrust him upon the Word. In our pain God's promises often become more real. No matter how dark the hour, the future is our friend, because Jesus is our Lord. It's always to soon to quit on the Lord.


David's debilitating condition causes him to wonder if he will make it. He knows he won't if his persecution lasts much longer, so he asked how long it would be until he is vindicated. In verse 84 David prays that God would make haste to execute judgment on those that persecuted him. "How many are the days of Your servant? When will You execute judgment on those who persecute me?"

With the shortness of his life before him, the psalmist now asks, "How many are the days of Your servant?" [God's servant is one who submitted himself to God.] The implied answer is, "Not many." He feels his time is running out. The sands of the hourglass near exhaustion due to the pain of relentless attacks. So he prays, "When will You execute judgment on those who persecute me?"

He prays not for power to avenge himself for he refused fall into hate and malice. He asks that God Himself would take action to avenge and would repay (Rom. 12:19) what man has done to him. There is a day coming, a great and terrible day, when God will execute judgment on all the proud persecutors of His people (Jude 14).

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